The average child spends 5 to 6 minutes outside, which is less time than a convict spends outdoors.
Adults are glued to their televisions and their phones, spending hours mindlessly scrolling days away from the couch.
We are becoming an indoor species, and that has a profound effect on our individual health and the direction of humanity as a whole.
Nature is Critical to Wellbeing
Spending time in nature is one of the most important things we can do for our mental health and wellbeing. Yet so many people only experience the outdoors for brief moments when they are getting into or out of their cars. Aside from the myriad of modern distractions that lure us indoors, many of us don’t fully realize the health benefits that nature provides.
Here is what you’re missing if you aren’t regularly spending time outdoors:
- The outdoors are inherently active – If you’re outside,chances are your body is in motion, whether that’s a calm stroll down a trail or an intense game of pickup basketball at park. Simply being present outside in this way gives you more opportunities to improve your Habits of Healthy Motion.
- Nature triggers a relaxation response – A wide range of studies have found that the outdoors reduce stress levels, which in addition to being good for your mood helps to combat a variety of stress-related diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases.
- Being outside is good for your brain – Beyond reducing stress, nature has been found to help combat depression as well as to improve your ability to focus on mentally demanding tasks.
- The outdoors strengthen your health bubble – The Habits of Health often encourages you to surround yourself with positive influences, and being outdoors regularly puts you in the orbits of others who value their health. You could join a recreational sports league for direct support, but even just being around other people who hike or jog can be beneficial.
- Sunlight is fuel – As long as you wear sunscreen, being outdoors in the sunlight by itself has a number of rewards, such as boosting your vitamin D levels and improving your sleep.
Experience Nature on Your Terms
As the snow melts, you will have more and more opportunities to incorporate the outdoors into your routine, and you have several options to choose from.
Here are some ideas for how you can enjoy nature:
- Go for a walk in the park, around the neighborhood, or enjoy a trail.
- Start an active outdoor hobby like hiking, kayaking, or paddleboarding.
- Recreational sports leagues for basketball, soccer, or ultimate frisbee are great for year round activity – play outside in the summer and go indoors during the winter.
- Sit outside in the sun while you read a book.
- Ride your bike to work (if you live in an area where that’s possible).
- Open your windows at home – Fresh air is good for you even if you have to be inside.
If the outdoors is already a part of your lifestyle, I’d love to hear your story and how you got started!